LIBERIA: Mixed reaction to UNMIL extension

Source: IRIN
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MONROVIA, 17 September 2009 (IRIN) – In Liberia citizens’ reaction has been mixed to a 16 September UN Security Council decision extending the UN peacekeeping mission (UNMIL) to assist with the planned 2011 presidential and legislative elections. “Without UNMIL there would be problems for Liberia,” Augustin William, an electrician in the capital Monrovia, told IRIN. “It is not feasible for the mission to leave now because that would risk another round of conflict.” UNMIL was set up in 2003 to bolster a ceasefire agreement ending a war that killed some 150,000 Liberians and displaced 850,000. Kingston Kolleh, a Monrovia-based commercial photographer, said: “Security is not yet in place. Some parts of the army are not functional…Liberian forces and UNMIL still need to train the national army and police and deploy more of them at borders before UNMIL can move on.” UNMIL staff have been providing security at strategic government sites; helping the government restructure its police and military forces; and developing a police training programme, among other duties. But newspaper seller Wilson Denis told IRIN he is ready to see UNMIL leave. “It’s not necessary for UNMIL to be here because they are no longer doing much….When there [is violence] they don’t go to the scene; they ask the Liberian national police to respond instead.” UNMIL’s troop strength will remain at 8,000 until the 2011 elections after which the exit will accelerate, according to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. At the height of the mission in March 2006, some 15,000 UN troops were deployed throughout the country.

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